Eating Your Way to Good Health

Posted on January 7th, 2014 by in Healthy Living, Nutrition

healthIt wasn’t until I became interested in yoga that I realized that good nutrition and healthy eating habits are necessary in order to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

During my most recent trips to Kripalu, I’ve spent less time focusing on asana and meditation, and more time seeking out programs that can help me build a better foundation in nutrition, so I can make smarter food choices.

This fall, I spent a week with nutritionist and Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH, and Kripalu Executive Chef Jeremy Smith, in their Nutrition and Cooking Immersion.

John, who is a fan of the Paleolithic diet, broke down some popular food myths, and answered questions about which foods to eat and why.

The Paleo diet argues for a return to how our ancestors ate—mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, with limited amounts of fish, seafood, poultry, and whole grains (such as amaranth, quinoa, and millet). This diet is both dairy-free and gluten-free.

John says that we aren’t meant to be drinking cow’s milk nor consuming the high-gluten products now circulating in our food supply—which are increasingly made with genetically modified grain and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

Contrary to what most Americans think, a bowl of oatmeal in the morning (which is pure gluten, unless it’s made with gluten-free oats) is not nutrient-rich. He says a better breakfast alternative would be poached eggs with greens, a protein-packed fruit smoothie, or fruit with nuts and seeds.

Avoiding eggs because of the cholesterol? John considers poached eggs “superfoods,” because their yolks contain choline, which helps the liver detoxify and improves brain development in children.

If you eat eggs, it’s important to prepare them in a way that keeps the lipids from being oxidized, as they are when you fry or scramble them. Instead, poach your eggs, or eat them hard- or soft-boiled.

John also explained the importance of eating foods that are alkaline, not acid-forming (like meat), to help maintain the body’s healthy pH of 7.39.

Alkaline-forming foods that are least taxing to the system include

  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Spices and green herbs
  • Root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips)
  • Tubers (onions, leeks, garlic)
  • Winter squash (butternut, acorn, blue Hubbard, spaghetti)
  • Buckwheat flour and grouts

Nutrient-rich foods to load up on include almonds, apples, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, black mission figs, cherries, cilantro, collard greens, concord grapes, cranberries, grapefruit, kale, mustard greens, oysters, onions, papaya, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, rosemary, sardines, tempeh (note that it contains gluten), thyme, tumeric, walnuts, and wild salmon.

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About Jennifer Mattson

Jennifer is a journalist, writer, yogini, and kirtan junkie. A former volunteer resident at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, she’s a former broadcast news producer for CNN and National Public Radio. Her reporting and writing have appeared in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, USA Today and the Women’s Review of Books.